The team had iftaar and broke the fast during Ramadan with Imam Qazwini at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Michigan. This oppurtunity, like so many other events for me on this journey, was an experience which I have never had before. It was my first ever visit to a predominantly Shia mosque. Prior to this journey, I was somewhat guilty of perceiving Shias in a similar way in which history books, media outlets, and American political leaders have portrayed Shiaism as anti-American, inherently violent, and politically radical. In meeting Imam Qazwini, all of those rumors have come to fruition as false. Now, I know that I can never judge anyone or any group until I engage face-to-face with them.
In driving down the Ford Highway, the Center becomes visible from a ways away, as its grandiose minaret sticks out amongst its neighboring churches. The outside of the Center is even more aesthetically pleasing at night, as it illuminates the dark horizon with a white glow. Inside of it, beautiful Islamic calligraphy lines the walls of the main prayer room while sparkling mosque shaped chandeliers hang from the ceilings. The Center itself is undoubtedly striking in its appearance, but its preeminance is much deeper than the majestic looking building itself.
Guided by the wisdom of Imam Qazwini, the Center has served as the epicenter for interfaith bridge building in the post 9-11 era in the metropolitan Detroit area. What stood out most about the Center, however, was the kind and generous nature of its members. All Muslims whom we encountered greeted us with open arms and warm smiles just as they would their own members.
As we were leaving, the Imam presented each one of us an Islamic Center of America coffee mug as a symbol of his commitment for the purpose of our journey towards greater understanding between American citizens. As we continue on this journey, I will be sure to never judge a person or a group of people until I have gazed at them in the physical with my own eyes. This, I believe, would do justice to Imam Qazmini’s message.